David Harsanyi

Is it inherently unpatriotic or immoral to want to see a president fail? After chewing over the larger implications of that vital question, I've come to a conclusion: I am a twisted human being. Thankfully, I'm not alone.

You see, when I'm not wasting time greedily praying to be rich, I plead with some higher power to sentence my middling local representatives to painful obscurity and professional failure. My congresswoman, for instance, carries an intellectual confidence so severely out of step with her skill set that the promise of disappointment, I trust, one day will bring me great joy.

If we can't look to our politicians to fulfill our yearly schadenfreude quota, whom can we trust?

Which brings me to radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who recently, at a conservative conference, had the temerity to reiterate his desire that President Barack Obama "fail" -- not the economy or nation, mind you, but the politician. Pundits across the nation went into apoplectic tizzy fits over such blasphemous and ugly thoughts.

Since when is rooting for the success of an ideologically driven elected official a civic duty, you may wonder? Wonder no more. It merely depends on the politician.

Limbaugh's comments were, apparently, so abhorrent that the host is accused now of being the de facto voice of conservatism and the Republican Party.

That, as we all know, is technically impossible, considering someone actually is listening to Rush Limbaugh. Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, went so far as to call the radio host the "voice and the intellectual force and energy behind the Republican Party."

That is a neat trick. If Limbaugh is the voice of conservatism, conservatism must want Obama and, thus, America to fail. After eight years of seething hatred -- plenty of it deserved -- for George W. Bush, this brand of contrived indignation touches a new level of creative dishonesty.

Of course, there is always some gullible and amateurish Republican spokesman -- which is to Washington what a hooker is to Las Vegas (or, uh, so I'm told) -- who picks a needlessly counterproductive fight with Limbaugh. Inevitably, the Republican offers a feeble apology regarding the "inarticulate" or "inartful" initial statement.

The Democrats call this transaction "kissing the ring."